MAY 8, 2020. [ABOVE PHOTO: PIXABAY]
There is an ancient prophecy, older than Christianity, that says that a particular act of idolatry will provoke God’s wrath and usher in the end times. Many think Pope Francis bit the apple last October. And Australian mega fires, Covid-19, locusts, and monster hornets are causing some to take notice.
Prophets of Doom All Around Us
If you follow Catholic and Christian pundits on social media, you know that there has been endless chatter about the current pandemic. And the question on lots of minds is whether Covid-19 is a divine chastisement. Others openly wonder whether we have entered the end times. Lifesite News mentions several cardinals and bishops who have publicly stated such opinions. And Patrick Coffin and I just recently discussed the issue on his show.
But it’s not just religious folk. The Guardian reports that the UK is seeing an uptick in religious observance since the outbreak of the pandemic. And this humorous tweet sums up what a lot of people, religious or not, are thinking about the present moment:
Then add to the pandemic the reports of mega fires, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions everywhere, massive swarms of locusts, and the sudden arrival of monster hornets, and you get the feeling that maybe we should be building an ark or something.
But there is skepticism too. CNN ran a story about how we’ve seen prophets of doom before. And they’re right. Remember Y2K? The Mayan Calendar Apocalypse? The list is a mile long of far-out end-times predictions from eccentric self-proclaimed prophets.
Yes, it’s true. Earthquakes, plagues, fires, floods, and famines. It’s all happened before. And never in the history of humanity have any of these presaged the coming of the apocalypse. Mankind kept going. We recovered.
But this time is different. Don’t kid yourself into thinking that all the prophecies of Armageddon today are just like the rest. No, this time is different, and here’s the reason why:
Jesus predicted it.
Not some Podunk preacher man trying to grab his 15 minutes.
The Big Difference—Jesus
In the Gospels, Jesus spoke about the end times and a great punishment that would afflict the world.
“So when you see the desolating sacrilege spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains; let him who is on the housetop not go down to take what is in his house; and let him who is in the field not turn back to take his mantle. And alas for those who are with child and for those who give suck in those days! Pray that your flight may not be in winter or on a sabbath. For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be. And if those days had not been shortened, no human being would be saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened. —Mt. 24: 15–22, RSV
I highlighted two of the most significant features of Jesus’ prophecy:
- This punishment will be the worst punishment that God has ever inflicted on the world. Worse than anything mentioned in the Bible. For this reason, it is known as “The Great Tribulation.”
- The beginning of the punishment, or “Great Tribulation” is announced by a visible sign that is meant to be a warning. And that sign is the placement of a pagan idol/deity inside a “holy place.”
Some people think that the visible sign appeared late last year when Pope Francis brought a pagan idol inside St. Peter’s Basilica and worshipped it. (There are photos of Catholic clerics bowing down to the idol in the presence of the pope.) Leaders of the events fully acknowledged that it was a pagan worship event.
Yes, yes— I know what some of you are thinking:
True. But this is different. Never in the history of the Church has any pope ever been so arrogant as to deliberately do precisely the thing that Jesus warned against. Pope Francis, with full knowledge of the Scriptures and prophecy, did the very thing that Jesus predicted would bring about the end of the world.
A natural question arises. Why would Pope Francis do such a thing? A comprehensive answer to that question is beyond the scope of this article. But I’ve explained it elsewhere. In a nutshell, Francis rejects the supernatural dimension of Christianity. The Bible is just the word of men—not God. And so its prophecies which claim to foretell the future are fake. The miracles are fake. All claims to a special divine authority vested in Christianity are phony. Thus, his view of Christianity is much like that of the New Atheists. Christianity is no different from any other religion. Like all the rest, it is man-made, primitive, superstitious, and false. And so Christianity, in the eyes of this pope, is no better than any other religion. In fact, it is equal to other religions. Equally bad.
The Coup de Grâce That Wasn’t
Thus, there was a point to the pope’s dangerous idolatry. It was, precisely, to show that the forbidden act was not dangerous. That one could worship a false fertility goddess—in St. Peter’s Basilica, no less—and not a thing would happen. Life would remain unchanged. Life would go on uninterrupted. Pope Francis intended this act as the ultimate proof against Christianity. And against Christ.
It would be an understatement to say that things didn’t go as the pope expected. Things changed all right. Everything changed. All around the world, bustling cities were transformed into ghost towns:
This sinister zoom in makes me think of a Hitchcock movie.@the CrushedBones, Laurence England, Twitter
And the spooky part is that those changes were predicted in Bible prophecy. In a word, contrary to the pope’s expectations, Christ’s prophecy was fulfilled—in spades.
Is Covid-19 Predicted in Ezekiel 5?
In many places of the Bible, both in the Jewish and Christian Testaments, you can find descriptions of the Great Tribulation. The key is to locate those passages that contain the two essential elements:
- A description of the abomination (the pagan idol) that defiles God’s temple or sanctuary.
- A description of the consequent punishment which indicates that said punishment will be the worst that God has ever inflicted.
These are the two essential elements of the Great Tribulation contained in Christ’s prophecy, and both of them are found in Ezekiel 5. According to Ezekiel, the punishment includes a disease (pestilence) that, along with famine, kills one-third of the population:
Science Not Savior
A mortality rate of 1:3 is not that unrealistic when you consider that MERS, a close cousin of Covid-19, is killing that many in the Middle East. Some strains of Ebola kill 90%. And rabies and HIV, if not treated, kill 100% of their victims.
Science is NOT our savior and the simplest demonstration of this fact is found in the history of modern day virology. It doesn’t exactly justify a blind optimism that science will always be able to come to our rescue. Consider that forty years since the beginning of the HIV plague, and all the billions of dollars poured into that research, and we still have no vaccine or cure. Can we remain in lockdown until science finds a vaccine or a cure for Covid-19? Not if it’s going to take forty years! And there is currently no vaccine or treatment for SARS and MERS either. These are older viruses in the corona family. So what, exactly, is the basis for optimism that a quick fix to Covid-19 is just around the corner?
When you account for all the varieties of viruses and their manifold variables—treatability, contagiousness, deadliness, etc.—you realize that it is a miracle that humans have avoided extinction for so long. The right combination of virus characteristics and extinction is guaranteed. If, for example, Ebola or rabies or HIV were as contagious as coronavirus and as untreatable, their 90–100% mortality rate would effectively mean the end of the human race. It is a miracle that such a combination has never materialized.
And that is something to ponder. Just how did our caveman ancestors survive the minefield of the deadly virus landscape without the help of science? My Christian faith sees the providential hand of God in such a spectacular and undeniable fact.
But suppose God doesn’t exist. Then life really is a game of chance, and the true lesson of modern virology is that the number of chances we are given is finite. For it is a very live possibility that a virus with the right combination of qualities could come along and wipe us out before science could do anything to save us.
Has that time arrived? Have we met that virus in Covid-19? Nobody really knows. We still don’t know if immunity is possible. And—if immunity is not possible—we don’t know what kind of organ damage occurs to people after after second or third infections.
I guess my message to my secular friends is this. If science doesn’t come to save us this time, there still is hope. Science wasn’t there to keep our dumb ancestors safe from all these viruses, and yet, they managed to survive. How did they do that? Maybe they didn’t. Maybe God took care of them. Maybe the Bible really has something to teach us about our present moment. Maybe the Bible predicted this. BTW. Those monster hornets? Read Revelation 9. And those terrible fires in Australia? Read Ezekiel 5.
When you look at the timing of these events with the pope’s cataclysmically bad judgment, it is easy to understand why so many religious people are coming to the same conclusion: the Bible’s doomsday clock has struck midnight.
Science Apocalypse Taken Seriously by CNN
And why exactly should that religious opinion be dismissed so quickly by CNN? It was just last year that they reported with all seriousness that scientists had moved up their doomsday clock to 11: 58 p.m. So, naturally, the Bible’s clock runs two-minutes fast. That’s the power of prophecy for you!
Strike Up the Band!
I leave you with this apocalyptic gift from Ted Turner, the founder of CNN. He intended to cover the end of the world when it happened, and so he made a video for CNN to play when it should take place. It’s a marching band playing “Nearer, My God, to Thee”—the tune that, according to legend, was played on the sinking Titanic.